'More than appreciative': Woman thanks McDonald's manager who saved her life

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GRAND BLANC TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WJRT) -- When a customer went into sudden cardiac arrest, a McDonald's manager jumped into action. Her quick efforts performing CPR saved the woman's life.

During an emotional ceremony on Thursday, manager Desiree Gilder received an award for saving Barbara Brown's life last September. Brown was on hand to personally thank Gilder for her life-saving efforts.

"I'm particularly glad she was here and my family was more than appreciative," Brown said. "She's in my prayers every night."

Brown's husband, Charles, had come up to the counter one evening last September to order some ice cream. Before he could place his order, Barbara collapsed behind him.

"Charles had started screaming 'Barb, Barb, Barb.' We heard something in the background," Gilder said. "Once I heard him say 'Barb Barb Barb,' I instinctively knew something was wrong."

Brown said she was getting napkins when she suffered sudden cardiac arrest.

"She didn't have a pulse and she wasn't breathing," Gilder said.

Brown says doctors told her within just two minutes, it could've become sudden cardiac death. Thankfully, Gilder was already doing CPR within 15 seconds.

"I'm very thankful she knew CPR and she was here," Brown said. "It was just at the right time she was here. Otherwise, I probably would not be here."

Gilder said she jumped into action instinctively, drawing on CPR training she received years earlier in eighth or ninth grade.

"I wasn't thinking. I just kind of ran into help mode, you know, try to do whatever it is that I could do," she said.

Within just six minutes, emergency medical responders arrived and rushed Brown to the hospital. Gilder quietly went back to work, finishing her shift.

"It was few days later. I had gotten a call from my store manager and she said, 'You know, Barb's doing fine. She's pulled through,'" Gilder said. "I was so thankful because I had prayed that entire night that everything would be fine. She was."

Brown and Gilder have bonded as friends after the incident.

"I get emotional and very thankful every time I see her and I'm so glad she knew CPR," Brown said. "I would encourage anybody and everybody to learn CPR because you never know."

Now, each time Brown and her husband go to grab a bite to eat, they visit with Gilder. Brown gave Gilder an angel wing pin as a thank you for saving her life.

"It is a reminder to me every day that I helped save a life and that she's always going to be with me -- no matter what," Gilder said.

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